Israel Urged to Halt Settlement Work

As Israel and the Palestinian Authority engage in a new US-led direct talks, Russia and France called on Tel Aviv not to resume settlement activities in the occupied territories.

Moscow and Paris expressed concern that the Israeli construction project would endanger the direct talks between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and acting Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas in Washington.

"We are all very worried," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after a meeting with France’s Bernard Kouchner in Paris on Tuesday.

In November, Netanyahu announced a 10-month freeze on illegal settlement expansion projects, which will expire on September 26.

"We must see to it that the negotiations are not broken off on September 26. Everyone who can have an influence on the end of the moratorium must do everything in their power to prevent it," Lavrov said.

Kouchner, for his part, urged Russia, the European Union, and Arab nations to "use their entire weight" to push for the Israeli freeze to continue beyond the cut-off date.

The remarks came after Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said his party would block any attempt to extend Tel Aviv’s settlement freeze.

Abbas said on Monday that he would withdraw from talks should Israel resume its illegal settlement activities in the occupied territories.

(Press TV)

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